Com­mu­nity ral­lies for In­gram fam­ily

Central Otago Mirror - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

Or­gan­is­ing your own fu­neral is ‘‘weird’’, ter­mi­nally ill can­cer­pa­tient Al In­gram says.

‘‘It must have been weirder for the guy that was talk­ing to the man that’s go­ing to be put in the box,’’ the 36-year-old Cromwell man says.

Al and wife Heidi, 36, re­cently got his Alexan­dra fu­neral sorted after learn­ing he was go­ing to die from a brain tu­mour about three months ago.

Now he has just weeks.

The for­mer chef is try­ing to live as nor­mally as pos­si­ble and that in­cludes mak­ing jokes.

‘‘If I don’t keep my sense of hu­mour, then there’s not much left of me re­ally,’’ Al says.

‘‘They have given me two to three weeks. That was three weeks ago.’’

Nor­mal­ity also in­cludes spend­ing as much time as pos­si­ble with Heidi and daugh­ters Max­ine, 13, and Aria, 11, and it’s been made pos­si­ble by the gen­eros­ity of peo­ple, Al says.

At Easter the fam­ily em­barked on an all-ex­penses-paid hol­i­day to Fiord­land which in­cluded stay­ing at a Manapouri bach, vouch­ers from lo­cal restau­rants and cafes, a Lake Te Anau cruise, a flight in an aqua plane and trips to the glow worm caves and Mil­ford Sound.

‘‘I’m very in­de­pen­dent and have never been any­body else’s pity-party [but] I’m so grate­ful. It is very hum­bling,’’ he says.

Heidi can’t think of the right words to ex­plain how much peo­ple’s gen­eros­ity means.

‘‘I just want to thank ev­ery­one that’s fundraised for ev­ery­thing,’’ she says.

As well as hol­i­day of­fers, a Give a Lit­tle page had reached over $7000 since the di­ag­no­sis and peo­ple had told Al, ’don’t worry, we’ll look after your ladies’.

‘‘It gives me a bit of peace of mind that they are go­ing to be looked after,’’ he says.

The tu­mour was slowly wear­ing him down now and his eye­sight was start­ing to de­te­ri­o­rate, but he wasn’t bed-rid­den yet and con­tin­ued to fight.

How­ever, he hopes the process is ‘‘not drawn out’’ es­pe­cially for the sake of his chil­dren.

He was first di­ag­nosed 15 years ago, ‘‘a week and one day’’ after he and Heidi were mar­ried.

Since then he’s had three surg­eries and nu­mer­ous rounds of chemo.

Doc­tors had now told him there was ‘‘noth­ing left they can do’’.

RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

A plas­ter cast of ter­mi­nally ill can­cer pa­tient Al In­gram’s hand clasp­ing that of wife Heidi and chil­dren Max­ine and Aria’s hands.

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